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Despite 'Transparent & Efficient' 2020 Election In Florida, DeSantis Pushes For Changes

MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) -- Governor Ron DeSantis says "Florida had the most transparent and efficient election than anyplace in the country in 2020," yet he wants to make changes.

During a news conference in West Palm Beach on Friday, Governor DeSantis unveiled a slate of voting proposals which he wants lawmakers to pass in their upcoming legislative session, including restricting the mass mailing of mail-in ballots and access to ballot drop boxes.

DeSantis said the proposed laws will increase voter confidence in the state's elections and will strengthen election security, and transparency in the process.

"We need to make sure that our citizens have confidence in the elections, that they have the ability to vote. We want, obviously, everyone to vote. But we don't want anyone to cheat. And we want to make sure that we strike that appropriate balance," he said.

Despite the fact that there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, one of the proposals would ban vote-by-mail ballots from being sent out to all residents, making it so only voters who request a ballot would receive one. Under the proposal, voters would need to request an vote-by-mail ballot each election year.

Another proposed measure would "address the use of ballot boxes," which DeSantis called "a big problem" and argued that residents should either mail their vote-by-mail ballot or drop it off at an election office.

"You can't leave these boxes unattended," DeSantis said. "I think that you can take it, put it in the mail or take it to the elections office. Why do you need to have these things out there?"

DeSantis also wants lawmakers, when they convene in March, to bolster the vote-by-mail signature verification process and to not "shut out" Florida political parties and candidates from observing the voter signature matching process.

And he hopes that the legislature will "address ballot harvesting" in the state as to not allow individuals to submit other people's vote-by-mail ballots unless they are immediate family.

Other proposals would prohibit counties from accepting financial help from private organizations for "get out the vote" initiatives, require election supervisors to post "over-vote" ballots for the canvassing board to consider, and real-time reporting of voter turnout data.

Praising Florida's handling of the 2020 election, DeSantis told supporters, "We need to make sure that we continue to stay ahead of the curve."

Florida Democrats aren't surprised DeSantis wants to limit vote-by mail access.

"Why do Florida Republicans want to limit vote by mail access? Well it all comes down to who has access to the franchise." said Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Marcus Dixon. "So even though the vote by mail system worked well here in Florida this past election, any time too many people have easy access to the ballot box, Republicans feel like they need to change the rules."

Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz added, "These remarks by Governor DeSantis and his fellow Republicans make clear that they are more interested in holding on to power at all costs than ensuring fair access to our democracy. They want to limit vote-by-mail because they know that more people voting threatens their power, so they are turning back to the Trump Republican authoritarian playbook: voter suppression and incendiary rhetoric about election integrity.  "This is not an issue of Republicans versus Democrats, but instead an issue of Republicans versus democracy. Florida Republicans keep showing us that when given a choice between defending the rights of voters, or suppressing voter access, disturbingly they will all too gladly suppress, harm and sacrifice our most sacred Constitutional right, on the altar of preserving power for the sake of power."

(©2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company, contributed to this report.)



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